Defense Attorneys Question Informant In Garden City Bomb Trial
An FBI informant’s account of the investigation into an alleged bomb plot in western Kansas was called into question Tuesday.
Defense attorneys in the ongoing trial in Wichita’s federal courthouse had the chance to cross-examine Dan Day after two days of direct testimony. Day worked as an informant for the FBI for several months in 2016 as agents investigated Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen. The three men are accused of planning an attack on an apartment complex and mosque in Garden City.
As an informant, Day posed as a member of the Kansas Security Force militia. He recorded hundreds of hours of phone calls and meetings with the defendants at G&G Home Center, the business owned by Wright.
Day told prosecutors that by mid-September, a few weeks before their arrests, the men had all the materials they needed to make an explosive. The state is arguing the men were preparing to take action to carry out the attack.
But Allen’s attorney insists there was never a bomb.
“You said they had a bomb ready, put together and ready to set off?” Melody Brannon asked Day.
“They said they had everything they needed to do it,” Day responded.
“That’s different than having a bomb ready,” Brannon said.
Questioned further, Day said he never saw any equipment, except for the mortar and pestle he had provided.
Day was also unclear on what kind of bomb the men had planned to make and didn’t know what ingredients it would need. A sergeant with the Liberal Police Department testified a hotplate magnetic stirrer was found in Wright's pickup as police executed a search warrant, but he couldn't say with certainty whom the item belonged to, or who had put it in the truck.
Brannon acknowledged her client was “seriously worried” about the federal government, Islamic law and the upcoming election 2016 presidential election.
“In the end, though, Mr. Day, there was never any bomb at G&G, was there?” she said.
Attorneys for the three defendants have argued that Day is less a hero and more of a paid bounty hunter working for the FBI.
Day first came into contact with the FBI in July 2015, several months before he met the defendants. Shortly after, he joined a militia known as the Three Percenters. It was his choice to join, he said, but the FBI “asked me to follow them, and I agreed.”
James Pratt, an attorney for Stein, said Day had been providing the FBI information “for a while before they, for lack of a better word, ‘signed you up’ as an informant.”
Pratt provided as evidence a contract signed in October 2015, when Day formally became a paid informant while also serving as the militia group’s vetting officer. Day said he agreed to become an informant because he was concerned with extremists in the organization.
The defense will continue to cross-examine Day on Wednesday.
--Nadya Faulx is a reporter for KMUW and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow her on Twitter @NadyaFaulx. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.
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